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Frei aber Einsam, "free, yet lonely"

Nov 12, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Steinway Piano Gallery, 4285 Sidco Dr Suite 1, Nashville, TN 37204

Charissa Leung, Violin

Katja Yeager, Viola

MaryGrace Bender, Cello

Evan Solomon, Piano

Who's Playing?

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Charissa Leung, native of San Jose, CA, is one of Nashville Symphony’s newest members, joining the ensemble’s 2nd violin section in the 2022-23 season. She has most recently performed at the Manchester Music Festival in 2021, received the String Quartet Fellowship at Madeline Island Chamber Music in the summers of 2018 and 2019, attended the Aspen Music Festival from 2013-2016, and made her solo debut with the Prometheus Symphony as the winner of the Khuner Concerto Competition in 2015. Charissa was featured at the Rome Chamber Music Festival in 2017 and 2018, and is a frequent guest artist at Hawaii Chamber Music Festival and Nashville Chamber Music Society.

Charissa is passionate about teaching, whether it be giving group lessons at the elementary school in which she grew up, teaching underprivileged aspiring musicians online through a non-profit organization called Through the Staff, or more recently, maintaining a small studio of Yale undergraduates. She is currently on faculty at Covenant Conservatory teaching budding violinists and coaching adult chamber groups. Charissa began her violin studies at age 3 with the Suzuki method, and graduated from the McDuffie Center for Strings where she double majored in Violin Performance and French as a recipient of a four-year Presidential scholarship. In 2021, she completed her Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Syoko Aki and Tai Murray at Yale University. Charissa loves hiking, baking focaccia, and admiring cats from afar.


Katja Yeager is an active orchestral player, chamber musician, studio musician, and dedicated teacher. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Katja earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Viola Performance as a student of Jeffrey Irvine and of Lynne Ramsey.


Katja’s orchestral experience as a leader and section player includes performances with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic, Verbier Festival Orchestra, New World Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, and Canton Symphony. She has performed under distinguished conductors such as Manfred Honeck, Valery Gergiev, Lahav Shani, Matthias Pintscher, Theodore Kuchar, and Fabio Luisi; and with internationally recognized soloists such as Kristof Barati, Joshua Bell, Renaud Capucon, Jinjoo Cho, Joelle Harvey, and Golda Schultz.

In addition to her Proms debut at Royal Albert Hall in 2013 as a member of the inaugural
National Youth Orchestra of the United States, Katja toured Southeast Asia with the Lincoln
Center Stage Piano Quintet aboard the MS Westerdam in 2019. Previous years have seen Katja performing at private events, community concerts, and at American music festivals including the Castleman Quartet Program, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and Aspen Music Festival as a fellowship recipient.

Katja was initially trained as a violinist in the Northern Virginia area where she grew up and she credits the foundations of her musical appreciation and technique to her very first teachers, David Strom and Tsuna Sakamoto. Other influential teachers and mentors include Victoria Chiang, Caroline Coade, Daniel Foster, Dimitri Murrath, and George Taylor. In addition to teaching privately in the Nashville Metropolitan Area, Katja is a Suzuki instructor at Belmont Academy and Adjunct Professor of Violin and Viola at Tennessee State University.

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Cellist MaryGrace Bender is a performer, teacher, and believer in the beauty of music and the important impact it has on how we see the world. As a Suzuki teacher, she leads a full studio of cellists in the Nashville area, as well as a studio in Huntsville. MaryGrace founded the Nashville Chamber Music Society, which is a 501(c)(3) organization and performs on a regular basis with NCMS in a variety of spaces for a variety of audiences. This past summer, MaryGrace taught at Stringtime in DC, a festival for young musicians, and previously served as a faculty member and performer for Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages series for BridgeMusik in NYC. She regularly records in Nashville for scoring companies such as Sony, Bungee, Hulu, and Netflix, and enjoys coaching NashvilleCMS program chamber groups. She performed with the McDuffie Center for Strings in Carnegie Hall, as Young Artist for The Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy, and recorded orchestrally under Philip Glass’s Orange Mountain Music label which The Wall Street Journal reviewed as, “impeccably polished.”

MaryGrace’s studies include a master's degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music in Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy, and an undergraduate degree from The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University. She spent summers at The National Repertory Orchestra, Meadowmount School of Music, Brevard Music Festival, Chautauqua Summer Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival and School as a New Horizon's fellow. Past influential teachers include Dr. Melissa Kraut, Hans Jørgen Jensen, Julie Albers, Dr. Felix Wang, and Anne Hall Williams. MaryGrace lives in Huntsville with her husband Blake and their dog, Cooper. They all love the outdoors and she attempts to keep up with Blake via hiking, biking, skiing, or running.


Pianist Evan Solomon, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, has appeared in chamber
music and vocal recitals in France, Germany, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, and
throughout the United States. His exceptionally wide repertoire has led to frequent
engagements as official pianist at events such as the Hannover International Violin
Competition, the International Viola Congress, the West Point Clarinet Summit,
and the Starling-DeLay Violin Symposium.

Evan's performances as faculty artist of the Great Mountains Music Festival in
Korea have been heard on the Korean Broadcasting System and NPR's
Performance Today. Additional television credits include appearances on A&E
Network's Breakfast with the Arts with violinist Sarah Chang and cellist Han-Na
Chang, and Live from Lincoln Center: Perlman at the Penthouse on PBS. His
recordings with tenor Michael Sells and clarinetist Seunghee Lee have received
wide critical acclaim. A recent highlight was his premiere of the Concerto for
Piano and Orchestra by composer Gerald Busby with the Orchestra at Shelter Rock
in New York.

Evan began his piano studies with Olga Radosavljevich at the Cleveland
Institute of Music. A graduate of Grinnell College with a major in mathematics, he
received the Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California as
a student of Brooks Smith and was on the collaborative piano staff of the Juilliard
School for over thirty years.
Evan moved to Tennessee recently and has been delighted to explore the wide
variety of musical activity here. Recent performances include a recital with
violinist Basil Alter for the Prizm Ensemble in Memphis, a two-piano concert with
Dawson Hull, and an appearance with the Memphis Symphony in Orff’s Carmina
Burana. Upcoming events include a recital with Basil Alter for the Memphis
Chamber Music Society.

Evan currently resides in Memphis with his wife, violinist Yan Solomon, who
is also a CPA and works as a Financial Analyst at International Paper.

What's playing?

Program notes coming soon!

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